“I think it was sloppy reporting. I think it was unfortunate. It is an unnecessary means of people reliving what was a traumatic experience,” he said.
In a statement after the program went to air, NSW Police said the sniper would have had to shoot through two panes of glass to get to Monis, and the noise might have given the gunman time to get out of the way and potentially retaliate.
“It was the case that a shot from Sierra Three 1’s rifle could not penetrate both the window glass in the Westpac building and the window glass in the Lindt Cafe,” the statement said.
“Breaching the Westpac glass, that is creating a hole, and then shooting through it would have taken significant time and generated noise that could have been heard by Monis.
“This may have resulted in him retaliating in any number of ways such as detonating the IED that was believed to be present.”
Monis entered the Lindt cafe in Martin Place on the morning of December 15, 2014, and took 18 people hostage shortly before 10am. For the next 16 hours, the world watched.
In the early hours of the following morning, Monis shot and killed Mr Johnson, 34. Police then stormed the cafe, shooting Monis dead.
Ms Dawson, 38, died when she was hit by a bullet from a police rifle.
But Mr Davidson told 60 Minutes on Sunday, “We could have saved the hostages.” He believes he would have been able to shoot at Monis about 7.38pm when he says he saw the gunman’s head.
“You could see the shiny sort of bald scalp and the Islamic black bandana with white writing across the front that went across his forehead,” Mr Davidson said.
Police said that, in addition to potentially triggering retaliation from Monis, a bullet hole could have made any future attempts at taking a shot more difficult.
“Breaching the glass would have crazed the glass, that is created a network of fine cracks, which would have compromised Sierra Three 1’s ability to see to take the shot,” the statement read.
“In any case, there was only one occasion when Monis may have been in a position where snipers could target him.”
Police said the coroner found that, between 7.38pm and 7.48pm, a man believed to be Monis could be seen sitting in a window, but that snipers were unsure that it was him.
“It is noted that Sierra Three 1 said in evidence he had no doubt it was Monis but was concerned that he did not have the legal justification to take the shot.
“The Coroner found that the snipers could not see whether there were any hostages immediately behind or beside the person and they were concerned that firing would endanger the hostages.
“The Coroner concluded that the decision not to fire was completely reasonable.”
NSW Coroner Michael Barnes did find that police waited too long to enter the cafe to rescue hostages, and that it would have been safer to storm the cafe earlier or pounce after Monis fired his first shot.
However, he said he could not “stress too heavily” that the deaths of hostages Ms Dawson and Mr Johnson were not the fault of police.
Sally Rawsthorne is a Crime Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Jenny Noyes is a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald. She was previously a writer and editor at Daily Life.
Laura is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.